A CIGAR box that belonged to Winston Churchill sold for almost £80,000 at auction in Dorchester.

The Art Deco-style rosewood box, that contained two of Churchill’s cigars inside, was uncovered by an auctioneer on a routine valuation of antiques at a house on the Devon coast.

The box had been expected to sell for £10,000 but interest and bidding in it took off when it went under the hammer at Duke’s Auctioneers of Dorchester.

Five telephone bidders quickly drove the price up to £30,000 before three dropped out.

The two competing buyers resulted in the box selling for a hammer price of £61,000.

With auction house fees added on the total price paid for it by the UK-based private collector was £79,300.

The lid of the box is stamped with the emblem of Cuban cigar makers ‘Montecristo Habana’ and the name ‘The Hon. Winston Churchill’.

Inside is a mother of pearl penknife inscribed ‘Winston L S Churchill’ which he is likely to have used to trim the end of his cigars. The two Cuban cigars inside are still in their original cases.

The unnamed vendors were watching the auction online. They said afterwards: “We are over the moon with the final sale price. We would never have expected that this little cigar box would make such big money.

“We had hoped it would sell for a few thousand pounds so to get £61,000 is beyond our dreams.”

Guy Schwinge, of Duke’s, said: “The price paid for his cigar box underlines the enduring appeal Churchill still has today as probably the greatest Britain to have lived and a great wartime leader.”

The 5ins by 15ins box is believed to have been given as a gift by Churchill to his personal valet Norman McGowan.

The vendor bought it from a London dealer 15 years ago as a gift for her father.

When he passed away he left it in his will for her and her husband and they have now sold it.

Mr Schwinge added: “It really was an incredible find. Churchill is probably the most famous cigar smoker of the 20th century.

“He rarely was depicted without a cigar in hand, and the fact that he gave this box to his personal valet gives it even greater resonance.”

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